Five dark beer favorites

The winter season brings out the best in dark, malty, tasty beers. Beers that are perfect for sipping by the fire while a meaningless college football game plays on your TV (Yes Cheez-It Bowl, I'm looking at you) or while your wife watches that same Hallmark Christmas Movie over and over (No honey, this isn't a different movie, it's literally THE EXACT SAME PLOT). 

If you haven't picked up at least one or two dark beers for sipping yet, might I suggest some of my personal favorites? Some come in "Bombers" (a bigger bottle, usually 750 ML, that is used to distribute specialty or limited-release brews) but most are packaged in 4 or 6-packs. 

1- West O Coco Stout (Limited release area) - The two-time award winner at the Great American Beer Festival in the sweet cream or stout category is as good as it gets. The perfect balance of chocolate, coffee, and malts make this one a no-brainier. The only downside is West O has a limited distribution area outside of their brewery in West Okoboji, Iowa so chances are if you are reading this in a Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, or Tennessee market you can't get your hands on it. 

2- New Holland Dragons Milk - A smooth barrel aged stout that goes perfectly with any meal consisting of red meat. A little bit of a bite on the back end, but if you can handle that (and the very high 11% ABV) this one is a solid choice. In fact, with rowdy relatives coming over, the alcohol content might make it an ideal choice to pass around (or keep to yourself). 

3- Crow Peak Pile o' Dirt Porter (Limited release area) - Another solid choice that comes with a limited release area. Crow Peak is consistently named one of the top brewing companies in South Dakota with a solid lineup from top to bottom. Pile o' Dirt is about as easy drinking as a dark beer gets. If you can find it, buy it in bulk and save some for later. 

4- Boulder Brewing Company Sake Chocolate Porter - Another one that gets the balance between chocolate flavor and malty goodness right. The best way I can describe this one is a chocolate shake in a bottle (without the regret of all the ice cream calories).

5- Point Snow Pilot - Pistachio and beer aren't normally two things that I'd put together, but this brown ale seems to get it right. Smooth drinking and goes great with a burger and fries. 

There you have it. A good starter list to get you through the holidays and cold weather seasons until the summer seasonals start rolling out. Which we all know now begins in February (ironically enough) with the release of Summer Shandy.